Last summer, in a never-ending attempt to find things for our kids to do that were as safe as possible and also as avoidant of other people as possible, my wife happened upon a petting zoo in Reston, Va., called Roer’s Zoofari. It is about 45 minutes to an hour from my house depending on traffic, so one day last June, we loaded up the family and headed off to the Zoofari.
Roer’s is one of those places that has a petting zoo but also has a drive-thru safari experience where you can feed a bunch of animals like llamas and goats, etc. These animals walk right up to the car and if you’re lucky—my car was very lucky that day, much to the dismay and fear of my kids—the animals will basically try to get into your car to eat the carrots and lettuce you buy at the entrance to feed them. I think our ticket allowed us to drive around the feeding trail one time, but that was enough.
After that, we parked and walked into the petting zoo part where you walk around and feed baby goats and a vast array of animals. But the star attraction of Roer’s was Waffles, a giraffe with an extremely large tongue who loved lettuce. He was a very friendly giraffe (not sure if there are unfriendly giraffes; I don’t know a lot of giraffes). While feeding him, he definitely licked my hand and after that we were pretty much an item. My kids and wife enjoyed feeding him as well. Giraffes are some majestic animals. They look like you should hug them on a count of their long necks and, well, they’re huge. I don’t know, giraffes are just the kind of animals you revere.
So you can imagine that my house, my wife in particular who is somewhat of a super-duper softy, was crestfallen at the news that Waffles and another unnamed giraffe died in a barn fire last week at the zoo. While talking to one of her friends about the fire and Waffles, in particular, her friend remarked that two giraffes dying in a barn fire might be the saddest shit she’s ever heard in life. And while it is clearly not the saddest thing ever in life—loss of life, especially due to state violence obviously supersedes that, among other things—there’s something about defenseless animals dying. The authorities are still investigating the fire and I’m sure they’ll definitively determine what caused the fire, but the fact is, those giraffes probably never stood a chance once the fire broke out. And it’s giraffes. Like, kids’ stories are chock full of awesome giraffes. When you go to the zoo, any zoo, if they have giraffes they’re almost always a central attraction.
You cannot be hardcore around a giraffe; it’s pointless. If that giraffe puts his head down towards you, even the most thugged out of thugs is having a cute moment. It’s a giraffe. That’s like pandas and elephants and horses and ponies. It’s just sad that two beautiful, majestic animals lost their lives that way.
Roer’s Zoofari was apparently a huge hit last summer, especially as more and more parents sought out safe contact-less ways to get their little kids out of the house, so Waffles met a lot of kids last summer. He was a hit in my household and in households around the D.C. area.
Shout to the homie Waffles, glad we got to meet big giraffe homie. When Richie Rich asked if Gz got to go to heaven, I’m assuming that G also includes giraffes. And I’m most certain that they do.
RIP Waffles and the other, new, unnamed giraffe, too.